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Friday, December 30, 2011

Chester A. Arthur - Hoosick


Corner of South Street and Route 7 - Hoosick
From The Hoosick Township Historical Society February 2004 Newsletter (Editor: Phil Leonard; Museum Curator: Charles Filkins):

Chester Arthur lived in the Hoosick area around the 1850s. His father was a Baptist minister and pastor of the Hoosick Baptist Church. The family lived on Hill Road and the home is still being used.



He was born on October 25, 1830 in Fairfield, Vermont. Years later a book was written untitled “How a British Subject Became President of the United States”. This book claimed he was actually born in Canada but took the birthday of a brother that died as an infant and was born in the United States. The book claimed that when he received the nomination for vice president he simply appropriated the birthday of his dead brother.

In an interview in 1932, Julia Plant, a lifelong friend of the Arthur family, stated that Chester Arthur lived on the Hill Road when he was in his early twenties and was attending Union College. The family lived five years in Hoosick and Arthur came home often by stagecoach. He studied to be a teacher and lawyer. His sister Mary Arthur McElroy, also a Hoosick resident, acted as his official White House hostess. Information in biographies and on the Internet fail to mention President Arthur’s connection with Hoosick. Locally it is said he taught at the Old Stone School House but the literature only states that he became schoolmaster in North Pownal after college in 1849. He went back to Union College and received his Master’s degree in 1851 and in 1853, at age 23, joined the law firm of Culver and Parker in New York City as a clerk. Chester Arthur can be found listed in the 1850 census of Hoosick.

In 1880, during the Republican National Convention, he was selected as the running mate of James Garfield. The assassination of President Garfield in July, 1881, elevated him to the Presidency. Since he had been the second choice of Garfield many in the country thought that he would be an ineffectual leader. “During his administration he supported the Pendleton law for civil service reform; vetoed the act prohibiting Chinese immigration for 20 years; supported the Tariff Act of 1883 and Edmunds law prohibiting polygamy in the territories. Three transcontinental railways were completed his term. He spent only three years, 166 days as the President. He was unable to get the nomination of his party in 1884.

By the end of his term in office Chester Arthur had become a widely admired president. Publisher Alexander McClure wrote, “No man ever entered the Presidency so profoundly and widely distrusted, and no one ever retired....more generally respected.” He died of a heart ailment in New York City on November 18, 1886 at the age of 56. He was buried with other members of his family in the Albany Rural Cemetery, Albany, New York.